The British royals started a revolution in gemstone fashion when Prince Charles, in 1981, gave his fiancee, Lady Diana Spencer, a choice of engagement rings and she chose a 12-carat blue sapphire nestled in white diamonds. Engaged couples can and do still buy “princess-inspired” copies of this ring, featuring a rich dark oval-cut sapphire several carats smaller than the royal version. Charles and Diana’s son, Prince William, began a tradition when he presented his late mother’s sapphire ring to his fiancée Kate Middleton. Prince Charles paid the equivalent of $60,000 for it. According to Today.com the ring is now worth half a million dollars.
Sapphires are rarer than diamonds, but because there is less demand for them, sapphires, spanning whole spectrum of colors, are comparatively quite reasonably priced. Diana’s sapphire is the most desirable color, Ceylon blue or “bleu de roi,” the although the gem’s blue range is scaled from light blue, called “cornflower,” to indigo, to a solid midnight blue, nearly black. Sapphires are valued also by their cut and clarity. Aside from Diana-inspired engagement rings, blue sapphires come in and out of fashion, but are the classic choice for September birthstone wearers. Semi-precious alternatives are iolite, with its own midnight-blue mystique, and blue spinel.
Sapphire Color and Quality
Blue sapphires represent the cosmos and infinity, including infinite devotion and encouragement to “reach for the skies.” They represent love on a spiritual level, or what the Roman Catholic Church calls “mystical marriage.” You’ll see sapphires in some wedding sets. Sapphire lends its wearer knowledge and good moral character. The indigo sapphire in particular offer wisdom and enhances powers of intuition and clairvoyance. In the Bible, God decreed it should be the center stone in the second row on high priest Aaron’s wondrous 12-stone breastplate.
The word “sapphire” means “sacred to Saturn,” and the stone has been taken quite seriously as a curative for poisonings, skin eruptions, and eye disease. No one wears this stone lightly, and it’s not for the frivolous. Children and young lovers born in September will do better with light-blue sapphire birthstones. Yellow and pink are also popular. Red sapphires are called rubies. A rare specialty sapphire called “padparadscha,” meaning “lotus,” has a color resembling the flesh of exotic fruits such papaya or dragon fruit. Jewelers to this day debate about exactly what shade “padparadscha” color is.
Low-quality sapphires with little to no transparency add the planet Saturn’s weightiness to the wearer’s life, and are unhelpful. A dull or shadowy sapphire, when set in a ring, is far more trouble than it’s worth. Yet wearing a small blue sapphire stud in each earlobe will encourage discipline in work and in meditation practice.
A black sapphire is valuable when you are job hunting, but wear or carry it where no one else can see it. To others, any black stone communicates, “Leave me alone. I am into myself. Let no one come near me.” That’s why tough guys wear black onyx rings, even more protective and defensive when the stones are large, flat, and set in gold. Can’t find Miss Right or Mister Right? Take off that black onyx ring.
Star sapphires and star rubies containing six-pointed stars that can be glimpsed under certain lighting conditions might be artificially made or natural. Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals advises that the star sapphire represents spiritual centeredness and the perfection of the universe. The stars within the stone can be bold and bright white or “shy” and elusive, or crooked. But unless you pay a fortune, you are probably buying a man-made star sapphire. Shine a flashlight into your star sapphire and move the light around. If the star stays in one place, it’s artificial. Natural stars are caused by rare alignments of the mineral rutile, and the natural stars are almost never perfect.
Sapphire or Lapis?
The planet Saturn is not linked with either of the zodiac signs of September: Virgo (until about September 20) and Libra (September 21 onward). Those signs have as their planets Mercury and Venus.
Then how did tradition decide on blue birthstones for September? The blue stone linked to both Virgo and Libra is the opaque, cobalt-blue lapis lazuli. Bible scholars are confused as to whether the original Hebrew word translated as “sapphire” refers to the clear, glassy crystal gemstone or the intense and highly decorative lapis lazuli, featured most famously in King Tutankhamen’s gold burial mask. The best lapis is mined from massive deposits in Afghanistan and is veined with pyrite, also called “fool’s gold.” “Lapis lazuli,” named by both the Romans and the Persians, means “stone of azure,” and it carries a high-energy vibration linked with the afterlife. Worn every day, this vibration can make you nervous and jumpy, or even cause stress.
The September-born, both Virgos and Librans, should choose carefully between sapphire and lapis. While the blue of lapis is nearly irresistible, and much more affordable than sapphire, lapis should be worn only on spiritual occasions.